EDITORIAL: Gonzales out, whats next?

As most Americans breathed a sigh of relief over the departure of Attorney General Alberto “torture is OK” Gonzales, President Bush told reporters he had “reluctantly” accepted Gonzales’ resignation.

“It’s sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud,” Bush declared.

What’s the message here?

I, the president, can disregard the Constitution and U.S. and international law, spy on Americans, torture detainees, turn our “Justice” Department into a Republican campaign operation, have my appointees lie to Congress, and you’d better not question all this, ’cause if you do you’re a slimy no-good un-American?

We applaud the announcement by Democratic congressional leaders that they will press ahead with investigations of the actions of Gonzales and other top administration officials.

In addition, new legislation is needed to restore civil liberties and privacy protections that this lawless administration has stripped away under the cover of “fighting terrorism.”

Clearly, though, as the Talking Points Memo political blog points out, Gonzales’ departure “can hardly be said to herald a new era so long as Bush (and Cheney) occupy the White House.”

With the departure of Rove and Gonzales, Republican operatives appear to be trying to clear the deck in their drive to hold onto the White House next year. And perhaps they want to free up Rove for more electoral dirty work.

But make no mistake: it was the action of voters across the country last fall, spurred by the labor/progressive grassroots mobilization campaign, that forced Bush to “accept” Gonzales’ resignation. That voter revolt put people’s leader John Conyers and liberal Democrat Patrick Leahy at the helm of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, where they pushed the investigations that began to expose this administration’s lies and law-breaking and ultimately forced Gonzales out.

The grassroots upsurge that brought us this victory now has to gear up for the big battle of 2008.